Lower School Curriculum

The Reggio Emilia approach comes from the early childhood schools of the Reggio Emilia region of Italy. What does this approach look like at The Hudson School? We honor the questions of our students. We teach them to be researchers and to develop intellectual curiosity. Often working collaboratively in partners and small groups, children use collaboration in the art languages to explore the answers and respond to what they are learning.

Our students start their journey in literacy by developing a love of story. Students begin early to compose, read, and share their own stories. During small group instruction, students learn the word-solving strategies needed to independently read more and more complex texts. Older students expand on this foundation to develop stamina, reading and writing both fiction and nonfiction texts. The Hudson School’s approach to writing instruction includes direct teaching at the sentence, paragraph, and composition levels, as well as a choice-driven writer’s workshop to develop ideas and style.

Play is not only a source of delight for the young child, it is the basis for academic readiness. Preschool is the time for sharing stories and playing with language. Our preschool students build with blocks and play counting games. They run and sing. They ask questions — lots and lots of questions. Often working collaboratively in partners and small groups, children use art and drama to explore the answers and respond to what they are learning. Our preschool offers both full-day and part-time options for 3- and 4-year-old students.

Learning in these areas is thematic and inquiry-based to offer students the opportunity to explore, develop curiosity, and build deeper understandings about the world around them. They develop questions and research. They test theories, learn from experts, construct knowledge and express their ideas. Field trips enhance learning in these areas, giving students an opportunity to observe authentic examples of the concepts from their classroom exploration. Students engage in an engineering design process in science, learning to take risks, reflect, and revise their work. Coding and robotics are introduced through creative, screen-free technology.

Our Lower School students explore modern languages during their elementary school years. Beginning in kindergarten, students build vocabulary, as well as listening skills and conversational fluency during weekly immersion language experiences. These experiences include highly interactive and collaborative stories, conversation, songs, and games.

Math at all grades goes beyond numbers and operations to include the domains of geometry, algebraic thinking, measurement and data, and math practices. We want children to be excited by math and have a strong foundation of understanding as they explore numeracy and spatial concepts. As children work to make sense of the world, their brains are designed to sort, classify, describe, compare, and search for patterns. Our classrooms are math-rich environments that develop these innate competencies. Developmentally appropriate curriculum provides guided practice that supports mastery of skills and a deep understanding of the way that numbers work.

Music is a daily activity at The Hudson School. Our program is based on the Kodály philosophy. It focuses on the goals of musical literacy, as well as singing a wide variety of authentic music. In music class, students learn musical concepts and skills by singing and performing on instruments with a varied repertoire of music, alone and with others. Teachers choose songs from many cultures, as well as from different eras of history. Singing informs each of the other areas of musical development. Instruments are used throughout Kodály training to extend students’ practice and performance of music.

We place a strong emphasis on learning through the arts. The Shared Space is a maker space for Lower School students and it serves two functions. First, it is a place where students can encounter a variety of materials and artistic techniques. A Reggio Emilia approach allows for these expressive languages to weave together cognitive skills and imagination in a way that leads to a richer understanding of the world. In the Shared Space, students engage with large, ongoing projects as well as smaller, independent activities. Much of the integrated curriculum of science and social studies is embodied here.

Children learn best through play and experimentation. Blocks provide an especially rich and effective tool for both of these areas. Our preschool and lower elementary classrooms protect space and time for regular block play. Blocks is an area where creativity and visual arts intersect with problem-solving, math, and science. Not to mention the social learning that happens as imaginative play and collaboration occur.